Revoke the killing of Geronimo the alpaca and allow testing

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Geronimo the alpaca is due to be killed by Defra because our government have decided he has bovine tuberculosis (btb) based on a single highly questionable blood test result. All other tests are negative. He is fit and healthy and there is no other evidence to support this decision. This test was done voluntarily.

Killing a healthy animal needlessly on the basis of a test is beyond comprehension. We are not asking for the results to be disregarded. We are only asking for further testing under the Defra agreed isolation conditions on our farm, as recommended by the test developers.

No diagnostic test is perfectly accurate and there is no performance data for the way this test was used. Camelids are a unique species completely unlike cattle. Geronimo has come from a tb negative tested herd in New Zealand and has moved to a tb negative tested herd in the UK.

If Geronimo dies then owners will stop testing at all. This will undo all the efforts of the Camelid community to carry out voluntary disease surveillance.

The UK camelid industry has taken responsibility and worked extremely hard over the last few years to get a voluntary btb testing scheme in place for the benefit of all camelids, their owners, buyers and the people they meet on farms, at trekking centres, weddings, care homes etc. Whilst the prevalence of btb is very small indeed in UK camelids, the industry wants to do all it can to keep it that way and support Defra and the wider livestock industry in eradicating bovine tb from the UK. Even the testing equipment was entirely funded by the industry because the government would not pay for it.

Defra are being very short sighted. Michael Gove’s department are insisting Geronimo must die. Why? Because we wanted to do the right thing by our herd and the camelid industry. Since when does a department paid for by tax payers get the right to play god because they are unwilling to use science as a learning tool for the benefit of everyone?